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[Page 131]

Memories in Images

 

[Page 151]

Memories from my Home Town

by Malia Kleinman – Perkal (Tel–Aviv)

Translated by Yocheved Klausner

When I remember my tormented Jewish neighborhood in the shtetl Jadow, I see first my father–and–mother, my sisters and my brothers. My father, Simcha Perkal, was the son of Motl Shoichet [ritual slaughterer] from Vengrow. When he was a young man he studied in the Yeshiva and later with the Gur Hasidim. In 1910 my father moved to Jadow and lived a clean and honest life, never complained, never cheated, offended no one – just followed the path that God had commanded.

My mother, Tzipora Perkal nee Potashnik, daughter of Leibush Potashnik (Rachel Schiyes) excelled in her honest and modest life and her warm heart in relation to people. With a constant smile on her lips, she was always ready to lend money, even if it was her last few Zloti, in order to help a needy small businessman to buy some ware for his trade.

My town Jadow deserved to be proud of its Jewish life in all respects: a socialist–oriented youth, various parties, leftist Po'alei–Zion, a “Needle–Union” (led by communists), the sports organization BEITAR under the leadership of Berke Branstein, the Tarbut School, the General Zionists Organization and the Hasidic shtiblech (synagogues).

I cherish the memory of the beautiful activity of Po'alei–Zion Left in the twenties and the thirties. I worked at the time for the party with my friends, with whom I have grown up together: Yochanan Finkelman, Feige Rosenberg, Shmuel Grinberg, Motl Gzhende (today in Canada), Leibel Spieler, Chana Slodash, Reizel Feldman and other devoted members.

Po'alei–Zion Left possessed a rich library full of books. The librarian was Shifra Bass. The party had a Drama Circle, led by Leibel Fyerowitz. I also remember the

[Page 152]

 

Po'alei–Zion Left Organization in Jadow

 

hard–working Jews, who had to struggle for their daily loaf of bread: the wagon–drivers Moshe Denak, David Gorbarski (Pletzel), Sender the lame, Shimon Gzhende, all pulling their wagons day and night, in rain and frost, taking to the train station merchants and regular passengers who were going to Warsaw.

 

The Farmers Rebellion in 1927

It happened on a beautiful summer day, a Wednesday, the weekly market–day, when many farmers with wagons full of grain streamed into town from all sides, and others came on foot leading their horses and cattle for sale.

Before entering town, the farmers began to gather and prepared a mutiny: they refused to pay the “gate–tax” that was managed by Jews. The farmers argued that the tax was too high. They soon advanced, armed by sticks. The police were aware that the members of the Anti–Semitic party “Narodna Demokracia” were the instigators of the opposition to the tax, only because the tax–collection was in Jewish hands, although the Jews had received an official license from the town authorities.

[Page 153]

The police, who were prepared for the farmers' rebellion, positioned policemen at all entrances to town and disarmed the farmers.

This conduct of the police enraged the farmers and they began fighting with the policemen. They grabbed whatever “weapon” they could and attacked first the policemen then the police headquarters in town, and wrecked the rooms. The police called the “Staroste” [chief] in Radzimin for help and advice, asking him how to deal with the “rebels.” In an hour, a carful of policemen arrived, headed by their commandant. The farmers had almost occupied the entire town.

The policemen from both towns, Radzimin and Jadow, took positions in an empty building near the firefighters' headquarters and opened rifle–fire on the farmers. Soon dead and wounded were lying on the ground. Moshe Shemendik, the regular collector of the gate–tax, very quickly fled from the place and only by a miracle several Jews suffered only a few blows.

After the firing subsided, the farmers jumped on their wagons and, whipping the horses over their heads hurried to leave town. In a few minutes all was calm again.

These are the memories that remained imprinted in my heart; other memories from my home and my neighborhood are veiled by the shadow of mourning and sadness. My beloved father and mother, my brothers and sisters suffered and perished with the six million Jews. We were seven children, I alone survived.

The question must be asked: where were my father's prayers, when he walked his last road? Or were the Heavens shut?

This deep sorrow will never leave me. The deep wound in my heart will never heal.


[Page 154]

Memories from my Old Home

by Shalom Blyashke (New–York)

Translated by Yocheved Klausner

It seems as it was just yesterday – the way the Shtetl Jadow is fresh in my memory, the town where I was born and raised and where I spent the best part of my young life. We all felt close and friendly since the days of our childhood. Although the years were filled with the usual daily worries and all were struggling for mere existence, we were still very happy and joyful. The town was unique, full of beautiful natural sights, and enjoyed a rich Jewish social life: political parties, youth organizations, schools, prayer houses and Hasidic shtiblech.

Factories were non–existent in Jadow, and most professional occupations were closed to Jews. So a young Jew became an apprentice of a tailor, a shoemaker, a tinsmith. In most cases, learning the profession – although it was not easy and it lasted several years – was pleasant: the feeling of togetherness among the “professionals” and the apprentices in the workshop, the noise of the sewing machines, the thumping of the hammers, the popular working songs and the beautiful Hassidic tunes that were sung from time to time…

When they became full–fledged craftsmen, most of them had become friends. They knew each other closely, unlike in the big cities where the relationship between boss and worker was cold and distant. The “master” was a qualified professional craftsman who had two or three workers – and the relations were friendly and close. The workers were organized in professional unions, and when they asked for a raise, sometimes even following a strike, their demands were met.

The Union was concerned with the spiritual and cultural needs of the members as well. They had a library and a drama group (to which I belonged).

[Page 155]

The rehearsals, held in private homes, served also as meeting places for young men and women and often turned into a joyous party where everybody had a good time. No salaries were paid for the performances; the profits from the tickets were use to buy books and pay the rent and other expenses.

 

A theater performance of the Drama Group in the “Tarbut” Hall.

 

The “Tarbut” Society also had a drama group and often we had joint performances.

Matel Rawinska, member of Hashomer Hatza'ir movement, took part in one of the plays. At a certain point in the play she had to pronounce the words “he does love me” in a happy and assertive way – however it came out with a clear question mark. She tried again and again to no avail, until an old man in the audience lost his patience and cried out loud: “She was such a nice girl and now, poor soul, she has become crazy because of this “threater.”

The religious life in town was very active. The young men, who were mostly non–observant, when they married and each became a “head of a household” went back to the synagogue and prayed with the rest of the community, because “it wasn't respectable” to do otherwise.

[Page 156]

The religious Jews in the community celebrated many joyous occasions and the entire town participated. I remember when the community “completed the writing of a Torah Scroll” – with great festivity. Old and young gathered in the market place and danced with the Torah with delight; the parade advancing toward the synagogue was accompanied by “actors” dressed in special costumes; Dudl (David), Leibel Tsalkes' son–in–law, who had been a cavalry–man in the army, organized a group of riders; cake and brandy was served along the way. It was a happy and joyous day that continued until midnight.

 

R'Yakov David Perlmutter –
a Jadow Balebos [respected man, lit. house–owner]

 

The Hol Hamoed days [intermediate days of the Pesach and Sukkot holidays] were particularly joyful: the arrival of many guests in town, the fresh friendships between young boys and girls, the spring holidays Pesach and Shavuot – all this filled the town with joy, overflowing into the woods and the green fields.

All this Jewish life exists no more. We shall remember it forever.


[Page 166]

My Home–Town Jadow

by Yakov Minski (New–York)

Translated by Yocheved Klausner

My home–town Jadow, although very small and remote, has left a deep impression on my soul. A deep longing persisted, a longing for my childhood and adolescent years, a longing for the simple and warmhearted Jews, who were so cruelly eliminated by the Germans.

I don't know when Jadow became a town and when the first Jews settled there – probably in the second half of the 18th century. Jadow was then part of the estates of Graf Zamaiski, who had a good relationship with the Jews. There are no reports about persecutions in Jadow at that time; Jews lived in peace in town and traded with the peasants, who showed no hostility towards the believers in the “old religion.” In general, Jewish life in town during the 19th century flowed peacefully, without serious trouble.

My great–grandfathers – R'Moshe and R'Zelig Grinberg – were employees of the nobleman, the estate–owner. Other Jews had taverns, or were in the lumber trade – the Jadow region was blessed with woods.

The figures of the rabbis, the religious leaders of the Jadow Jews, remained etched in my memory: R'Leibale – the rabbi of Dubienka, the Rav R'Israel Leimanowitz and the Niesewzer rabbi, who perished with his entire family. I want to mention also other dear Jews: my grandfather R'Yitzhak Mordechai, R'Moshe Rawinski, R'Yeshaya Farber, R'Yechiel Charinovski, Leibale Schiyes, Tzalke the mohel [circumcisor], R'Yochanan, R'Zalman, R'Yerachmiel Pravda and R'Avraham Ber Hoffman.

From the First World War I remember in particular

[Page 167]

 

Berl Bronstein (Kizhak)' his wife and their two sons

 

the year 1917. Young men from other towns arrived and were taken by the well–to–do Jadowers as husbands for their beautiful daughters. After the weddings, they became “sons–in–law on kest[1] and students of the Bet Hamidrash [“house of learning”].[2]

However, they almost never finished the kest term. Most young men began looking for more lucrative occupations: they went to the villages, set up a stand in the market, or traded in furniture, dry–goods or tools. Some of them became teachers. Very seldom one of the young men became a craftsman. Among them were very kind young people – my dear friends Meir Chaim Berls, Avraham Leizer Radzinski and and David “the anvil.” In winter days, when we came before dawn to our class in the Old Bet Hamidrash to study the “daily page” (of the Talmud), Avner the house–painter was already there. He had already read his Tehillim [Psalms] and would get ready for the morning prayer.

During the summer we moved our class to the New Bet Hamidrash, where the Jewish laborers came to the ”early Minyan.”

[Page 168]

We studied every day, except when there was a fair in town, or when we had to travel. We would discuss the matters studied, sometimes even argue loudly, but it was always an argument for the sake of understanding the material studied [lit. “an argument for the sake of Heaven”]. Some of the Jadow young men who would come to study were very religious and honest, like the brothers Shmuel and Yechezkel Rosenbaum, Kopel Berman and Shmuel Lichtblum (now in Israel). Among them were some real prodigies, very diligent in their Torah study: Simcha–Jonah Finkelman's grandson, Leibel Yedwovnik and Motl Yerachmiels, brother of our dear friend who lives in America – Hinda Lakyetch.

After World War I, with the establishment of Independent Poland, the situation in the shtetlach deteriorated. Anti–Semitism spread and Jews began to lose their livelihood. Soon came the Grabski decrees and the merciless taxes, and the Jadow Jews lived in poverty. The romantic era in Jadow was over.

 

Yankel Bronstein, a Jadow well–to–do Jew [lit. “house–owner”]

 


Translator's Footnotes

  1. The literal meaning of kest is “room & board.” The term was used for a special arrangement among Eastern European Jews where the father of the bride promised to provide room & board for the newlywed couple. The length of time was specified before the marriage and was to enable the groom to continue his religious studies. Return
  2. Minyan = prayer quorum of ten male adults (over 13 years of age). The “early Minyan” was held at dawn, for the laborers who had to go to work early. Return


[Page 169]

Stories from Jewish Jadow

by Chaim Neta Perlmutter (Bat–Yam)

Translated by Yocheved Klausner

Hassidic Bandits

The Alexander Stiebel[1] was in the house of R'Feivele Gzhenda, the old melamed [Torah teacher]. All week R'Feivele learned with the children, on Shabat the heder, in R'Yechezkel Biderman's house, was converted into a Hassidic “shtiebel.” The Hassidim were among the greatest learners in town: R'Leibish Potashnik, R'Leibel Gelbard, Shmuel–Shalom Zlotkovski, R'Yehuda–Yakov Winograd, R'Yehoshua Askala, R'Yidel Kitzkovski, R'Shlomo–Zalman Fjorawitz and R'Avraham–Moshe Guttman (Avraham Moishele the melamed).

Here is what once happened in one of the Hassidic stiebels:

As is well known, the readings of the Torah at the Sabbath Morning Prayer were symbolically “sold” to the persons called to the Torah, and the payments were made during the week. The money was used for the maintenance of the shtiebel: rent, the shaleshides [the third Sabbath meal] in the afternoon, wine for havdala and so on. However, those “debts” were not always paid on time, and to ensure payment, the gabbay [synagogue treasurer] would often “confiscate” the prayer–shawls after the Sabbath prayer was over and return them during the week only after the debt was paid.

Once, the gabbay R'Israel Potashnik performed this procedure. All men willingly gave up their shawls. Only one, R'Naftali Schidlowitz the leather merchant stubbornly refused – he will not part with his prayer shawl! It was decided to take it from him by force, and when R'Israel saw that the entire congregation began to advance toward him, he began calling in a loud voice: “Help! I'm being robbed! Help, robbers, bandits!”

[Page 170]

The Enmity between two Bookkeepers

The Jadow Jews had two banks and an Interest–free Loan Fund. The bookkeeper of the “First People's–Bank” was R'Yakov Schidlowitz and the bookkeeper of the “Second Merchants' Bank” was R'Avraham–Leizer Radzinski. He was the son–in–law of the Gites family, who originated in the Sileve village, 6 kilometers from Jadow.

Both bookkeepers prayed in the Alexander shtiebel and both hated each other. Avraham Leizer Radzinski was the reader of the Torah during Sabbath prayer and Yakov Shidlowitz liked to “buy” the sections of the Torah Portion that were most honored; in this context they often found a reason to quarrel. Sometimes it was not easy to calm them down.

And so they lived through the whole year hating each other. On the eve of Yom Kippur they reconciled and made peace, and after Yom Kippur they became enemies again.

 

He Missed a Mitzva

In 1938, my father, R'Yakov Perlmutter, became ill and was several weeks in bed. Dr. Wishnievski came often to see him. Once, on a Sabbath, my father had a bad attack, it seemed that it was his liver. The doctor came and ordered to prepare hot water. I knew it was Sabbath and it was forbidden to light a fire; but “saving a life overrides the rules of the Sabbath” [pikuach nefesh doche Shabat], so I lit the stove and boiled some water.

In the house next to ours lived R'Leibel, the Warsaw baker's son–in–law. He was a Jew with a small beard and long side–curls, a Chasid of Uman (we used to call them “dead Chasidim”), a very pious person. In his youth he had been a very “hot,” active communist, but later, out of conviction he turned into a very, very religious Jew.

[Page 171]

When R'Leibel heard that the doctor ordered to prepare hot water in order to save the life of a sick man, he came running: he wanted to perform the mitzvah [commandment] of lighting a fire on Sabbath and save a life!

When he heard that I had already prepared hot water, he cried out loudly, in real pain: “Oy, I was too late, I missed a mitzvah, an opportunity of once in a lifetime!”


Translator's Footnote

  1. Hassidic prayer–house Return

 

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